At least 436,342 Cubans now work in the private sector, most of them as hired workers and mostly in businesses to do with food sales, according to official figures released Saturday by the official daily Juventud Rebelde.

Figures from the Labor and Social Security Ministry say that 18 percent are hired workers, mainly in the sectors of food sales and passenger transport.

These two areas continue to enjoy the greatest expansion in Cuba's private sector, where prepared food and dining services are responsible for 13 percent of the licenses awarded, while transport accounts for 10 percent.

Next come landlords of homes and street vendors of agricultural products (known on the island as "carretilleros" or wheelbarrow pushers), with a 6 and 5 percent representation, respectively.

According to the statistics, 68 percent of self-employed Cubans have no other job, 18 percent have kept their jobs working for the state and another 14 percent are pensioners.

The latest figures related to Cuba's private sector were released by the government in July during a session of the National Assembly, when it was estimated that almost 430,000 people were involved in this type of employment.

The expansion of self-employment is one of the chief reforms promoted by President Raul Castro since 2010 to "modernize" Cuban socialism in order to overcome the island's economic crisis. EFE